By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A federal jury on Friday found a 35-year-old Hilo man guilty of possessing more than 50 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
Francis S.K. “Bulla” Ogata Sr. was convicted after a five-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor in Honolulu.
Ogata, who was also convicted in 2005 of another drug trafficking offense, will face a minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment when he is sentenced on April 25.
According to court documents, postal inspectors intercepted an express mail parcel from Las Vegas addressed to a Hilo post office box on Feb. 2 last year. After obtaining a search warrant, they discovered more than 145 grams — more than 5 ounces — of methamphetamine wrapped in plastic wrap and carbon paper inside a plastic container. Law enforcement officers then removed most of the meth, replaced it with a sham material, then put a tracking device in the parcel and repackaged it.
Shortly before noon on Feb. 3, postal inspectors saw Ogata pick up the parcel and drive away. Police attempted to follow Ogata but lost him. About an hour later, they found and arrested Ogata at his Waiakea Uka home and recovered a baggie with a small amount of methamphetamine on the floor of Ogata’s Jeep.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the Hawaii Police Department assisted in the investigation. State court documents indicate that local police obtained a search warrant targeting Ogata after another individual told them he had bought an “eight ball” — slang for one-eighth of an ounce — from Ogata, after officers discovered narcotics in the man’s car following a traffic stop near Ainaloa Park on Jan. 30, 2012.
In the state court documents, police identified Ogata as “a high level distributor of methamphetamine.” The documents stated that Ogata was also arrested by local police on March 24, 2011, and Aug. 27, 2011, for methamphetamine possession.
Ogata remains in custody at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu awaiting sentencing.